23 October 2016
Mohamed Morsi waves to supporters after he was sentenced to death in a court outside Cairo on Tuesday. Photo: Reuters
Mohamed Morsi waves to supporters after he was sentenced to death in a court outside Cairo on Tuesday. Photo: Reuters

Egypt court hands ousted president Morsi death sentence

An Egyptian court sentenced deposed President Mohamed Morsi to death on Tuesday over a mass jail break during the country’s 2011 uprising and issued sweeping punishments against the leadership of Egypt’s oldest Islamic group, Reuters reported.

The Supreme Guide of the Muslim Brotherhood, Mohamed Badie, and four other Brotherhood leaders were also handed the death penalty.

More than 90 others, including influential cleric Youssef al-Qaradawi, were sentenced to death in absentia.

The Brotherhood described the rulings as “null and void” and called for a popular uprising on Friday.

The sentences were part of a crackdown launched after an army takeover stripped Morsi of power in 2013 following mass protests against his rule. Hundreds of Islamists have been killed and thousands arrested.

The Islamist Morsi became Egypt’s first freely elected president after the downfall of longtime leader Hosni Mubarak in 2011.

Judge Shaaban el-Shami said the Grand Mufti, Egypt’s top religious authority, had said in his opinion that the death sentence was permissible for the defendants who had been referred to him.

Wearing his blue prison suit, the bespectacled and bearded Morsi listened calmly as Shami read out the verdict in the case relating to the 2011 mass jail break, in which Morsi faced charges of killing, kidnapping and other offences.

Shami had earlier given Morsi a 25-year sentence in a case relating to conspiring with foreign groups.

Morsi appeared unfazed, smiling, and waving to lawyers as other defendants chanted: “Down, down with military rule,” after the verdicts, which can be appealed, were read out at the court session in the Police Academy.

The rulings mark yet another setback for leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood, and increase the chances of its youth taking up arms against the authorities, breaking what the group says is a long tradition of non-violence.

By contrast, Mubarak is slowly being cleared of charges in cases against him. He will face a second retrial over the killing of protesters in 2011 and has been sentenced to three years in jail over a corruption case.

The court last month convicted Morsi and his fellow defendants of killing and kidnapping policemen, attacking police facilities and breaking out of jail during the 2011 uprising.

The White House said it was deeply troubled by what it called a politically motivated sentence.

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said he was deeply concerned and the European Union called it a worrying development.

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